Bien Me Sabe - Venezuelan Coconut Cream Cake

coconut cake

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  • Total: 4 hrs
  • Prep: 3 hrs
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Bien me sabe is a delicious Venezuelan dessert—a rich coconut cake with layers of cream and meringue. The name translates to "tastes good to me" (a good little grammar lesson for anyone studying those tricky Spanish reflexive verbs). This cake is similar to tres leches cake in that it is served chilled and is extremely moist, sweet, and rich. You can prepare this cake using a cake mix to save time, or use your favorite white cake or sponge cake recipe. Bien me sabe is best if allowed to chill overnight, so plan ahead if possible.

Ingredients

  • For the Cake:
  • 1 white cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • Vegetable oil (according to cake mix directions)
  • For the Coconut Cream Filling:
  • 1 (15-ounce) can coconut cream
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 5 egg yolks (reserve the egg whites for meringue)
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups heaving whipping cream
  • Optional: 1 cup coconut (shredded sweetened dried)
  • For the Syrup:
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • For the Meringue Topping:
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 5 egg whites
  • To Garnish:
  • Garnish: 1/2 cup shredded sweetened dried coconut (toasted)
  • Garnish: cinnamon

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this Venezuelan dessert is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and baking.

Prepare the Cake

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with wax paper.

  3. Mix cake mix according to directions and pour batter into the pan.

  4. Bake according to package directions.

  5. Remove cake from oven and cool completely.

Prepare Coconut Cream Pudding

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream of coconut, milk, and salt to a simmer.

  3. While the milk is heating, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and sugar in a separate bowl until smooth.

  4. When the milk starts to simmer, remove from heat and pour about a cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking quickly to mix.

  5. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, and return to the stove. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until cream mixture starts to thicken and come to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool.

  6. Stir in the vanilla, cover the surface of the coconut cream with a piece of plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour or two.

  7. Once the coconut cream is chilled, whip the heavy whipping cream in a bowl until soft peaks form.

  8. Whisk a cup of the whipped cream into the coconut cream to lighten it.

  9. Then fold the remaining whipped cream and the 1 cup shredded coconut (if using) into the coconut cream. Chill until ready to assemble the cake.

Prepare Simple Syrup

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Bring 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water just to a boil.

  3. Remove from heat, let cool, then stir in the rum.

Prepare Meringue

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place the sugar, 1/3 cup water, corn syrup, and pinch of salt in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil.

  3. Place egg whites in the (very clean) bowl of an electric mixer, and attach the wire whisk. When the temperature of the sugar syrup from the prior step reaches about 240 F (115 C), or after about 3 minutes, turn on the mixer and start beating the egg whites.

  4. When the temperature of the sugar syrup reaches 248 F (120 C), remove the syrup from the heat. The total cooking time is about 4 minutes, and the sugar syrup should make thin threads if you drizzle it off of a fork, and will have thickened.

  5. At this point, the egg whites should be forming stiff peaks. Slowly and carefully pour the syrup down the side of the mixer bowl, into the beaten egg whites. Continue to beat the meringue until it cools, about 5 minutes.

  6. Fold in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon rum if desired.

Assemble Cake

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Remove cake from pan and slice cake in half horizontally into two layers.

  3. Spread half of the coconut cream mixture on the bottom of the 9 x 13-inch cake pan.

  4. Place one layer of cake on top of the coconut cream. Use a pastry brush to moisten cake with some of the syrup mixtures, then sprinkle cake lightly with cinnamon.

  5. Spread the remaining coconut cream on top of the cake.

  6. Cover cream with second cake layer. Moisten cake with syrup and sprinkle with cinnamon.

  7. Top cake with meringue mixture, using a spoon to swirl meringue decoratively.

  8. Turn on oven broiler and carefully brown the top of the meringue under the broiler (for just a minute or two, not too close).

  9. Sprinkle top of cake with toasted coconut. Chill cake several hours or overnight before serving.

Tip

  • To toast the coconut, spread 1/2 cup sweetened dried coconut out in a cake pan and place into a 350 F oven to toast. Check coconut frequently and stir occasionally so that it toasts evenly. When it has toasted and is golden brown, remove from oven and set aside.